TV Show Review: BoJack Horseman

-Zenia Zuraiq, I Year B.Sc Physics


Looking for a new show to watch? Want a show that will make you laugh with dumb animal puns but also has lots of existentialist philosophy? Look no further than Netflix’s BoJack Horseman.

BoJack Horseman takes place in a bizarre version of our own universe, where half-animal, half-human hybrids are totally normal. This allows for the dumb animal puns I mentioned earlier, while also providing an absurdist landscape for the philosophy of the same name.

The show is named after the protagonist, BoJack Horseman (voiced by Will Arnett of Lego Batman fame), a half horse, half human, washed out reality star. Once the star of a popular 90s sitcom, Horsing Around, BoJack’s glory days are far from over. 18 years from the show’s cancellation, BoJack decides to make a comeback – and stop the spiral of self-loathing and booze addiction he’s found himself in. It is here we join BoJack as he attempts to fill the void left behind in his soul by plunging himself back into his “Hollywoo” life, a challenge much more difficult than he anticipates.

Along for the ride is Todd Chavez, BoJack’s human roommate, his feline workaholic agent – Princess Carolyn, Diane Nguyen, a human writer who BoJack hires to write his memoirs, and Mr. Peanutbutter, the ever optimistic and happy dog, a star of his own sitcom, Mr. Peanutbutter’s house, a rip-off of BoJack’s own show.

Bojack is a show that isn’t afraid to go dark and philosophical. Through Bojack attempting to get his star status back, we see a problem of identity and defining the self – a universal problem. It is a show that is extremely nihilist, discarding the notion of a firm place in the universe, and a show that perfectly captures the war between one’s true self and societal perceptions of the same

BoJack Horseman is a show that is often classified as a comedy, but is so much more than that. What followed a first season that opened to lukewarm reviews were the brilliantly crafted, and universally acclaimed seasons 2 and 3. If you’re a fan of Rick and Morty, and are looking for something similarly philosophical, but with much more character emphasis and development, BoJack is the show for you.

So grab a bunch of tissues, as you prepare to laugh, cry and question existence with a humanoid horse.

Bojack Horseman Season 4 comes out September 8 on Netflix.

A Reality Too Cold to be Alive

Dalia N, III Year B.A. English

Looking at innumerable pairs of tiny shoes in the Shoe room at the Auschwitz-Birkenau, our minds picturize happy children snatched from their loved ones and brutally killed in the name of purgation. Our bodies shudder upon realizing that we belong to a world, which had massacred innocence to become untainted. As the irony begins to settle in, haunting images of the past swarm our minds and somewhere in our minds, alarms go berserk.

We are filled with dread as we realize that the present is as horrifying as the past. Human rights ensures the dignity of individuals. Who can secure the dignity of a child, if it is not considered as an individual? In a world which looks down upon women and minorities citing culture as a reason, children as individuals are forgotten and objectified through norms. Nations look at children as formidable assets, as commodities children are deprived of their agency and their cries fall on deaf ears.

Innocence is being ripped apart and fed to dogs rabid for power. Caregivers dismiss their children’s complaints as fit, with none to trust, children remain silent about their abuse. Abuse and the aftereffect of war makes children susceptible to the snares of hunters who make them soldiers or sell them off for flesh trade and organ harvesting. Children are blemished from the traumas of assault, murders, abduction, maiming, rape and loss. Their innocence wails aloud upon being tarnished by the consequences of our selfish deeds. Everyday the woes of children increase at abominable amounts, and the tales of little heroes who overcame the brunt of victimisation serve as beacons for those in travail. When one part of the world is torn by conflicts, another is ruled by prejudices, for each their problem bigger than the other. Children’s innocence is shredded as they witness the ethical degradation of the world, which destroys the safety of their homes. The world claims to work for a viable future. Are we forgetting that children are the future?

Conventions on child rights, rallies and awareness programs force governments to formulate laws that hold good on paper and inaccessible to those who are supposed to avail it. How will a child know that it has rights? How will a child know that its rights are being violated? These laws are not for the children, it is for us. It is a reminder that without them, somewhere in the future, broken individuals would regret their past- Us. Changes are not needed in governance but in our perspectives, after all did we not inadvertently choose what we have today.

Friends Forever

Friendship Day was celebrated with great pomp

Shakthi Bharathi, III Year B.A. English

In true Stella-fashion the spirit of friendship was high this year. Since August 7th was a Sunday, the event was celebrated on Tuesday the 9th of August during break time for both shifts. The event kicked off with the Western Music Club’s harmonized rendition of Lean On Me and followed by a performance by the Western Dance Club. Friends had come dressed in matching clothes in honour of the day, and participated in games that the Union conducted. Mustafa Mustafa and other friendship-themed songs were played and the crowd had great fun dancing to them.

Why Resistance Won’t Go Away

Sneha Mary Christall, II Year MA English

Voltaire once said, “It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.” Strange, isn’t it, that his words still hold good two and a half centuries later? Our generation has seen how writers, activists and whistleblowers have been publicly discredited for upholding truth and their right to free speech. Just last year, the Tamil writer and scholar Perumal Murugan came under fire for writing on caste divisions, hurting the sentiments of the Kongu community of Thiruchengode, Tamil Nadu. Even as you read this, more Kashmiri civilians will lose their sight to pellets and state oppression. Edward Snowden who has been variously called a legend, a blasphemer and a rationalist is currently a refugee, living in exile for exposing the NSA’s global surveillance programs. These instances have reinstated what popular imagination and culture have presupposed: Big Brother is watching you.

I only watched the 2006 German movie Das Leben der Anderen (translated as The Lives of Others) recently. This drama film dealing with the monitoring of East Berlin residents by the German secret police won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Quite pointedly, the film is set in 1984. It is a timeless social commentary on state surveillance and the hostility of those in political power towards writers and dramatists. The goal of the Stasi, the secret police of the GDR (German Democratic Republic) is quite simply “to know everything”. When the stoic Stasi Wiesler is given the assignment of spying on the famous playwright Georg Dreyman, he shows absolute commitment to his duty. However, Wiesler soon develops attachment to the playwright and his lover whom he watches from his surveillance booth. He becomes further disillusioned when he realises that the true motive of the task is misguided. He asks his superior, Lt. Col. Grubitz, “Is this why we joined?”

To avoid being blacklisted, Dreyman smuggles a mini typewriter into his flat. This is symbolic of his reduced power and his inability to write freely about his political opinions. Using it, he writes anonymously against the state’s neglect of its citizens’ rights. Wiesler rewrites whole transcripts of Dreyman’s conversations so he wouldn’t be revealed as a conspirator against GDR. He hides the typewriter so that the Stasi wouldn’t find it during their official search of Dreyman’s residence. Dreyman soon discovers Wiesler’s role in protecting him. Four years later, following the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Wiesler could finally cut all ties with the Stasi. In this new and free world, he comes across Dreyman’s new novel, Sonate vom Guten Menschen (translated as Sonata for a Good Man) dedicated to him.

The movie quite clearly demonstrates that even the most rigid minds are capable of feeling something more human. Wiesler, who is trained to feel or show no emotion, gradually becomes capable of risking his life for Dreyman. His mask of impassivity falls off to reveal a mind broadened by ideas of liberalism and free speech. Dreyman’s novel is also symbolic of the role literature and theatre can play in ensuring that dominant ideologies are resisted, revisited and questioned. The Brazilian writer and politician Augusto Boal’s work in this area is a testimony to how theatre when directed towards social change, has the potential to rewrite histories and create reform.

In July this year, Perumal Murugan returned from his self- imposed exile with an English translation of his short story Neer Vilayattu. This instance reaffirms the resilience of those who are silenced or pushed to the margins. Like the numerous posters that depict actors blinded by pellet guns, resistance will continue to exist in all its forms.

Book Review: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Pooja Krishna H. A., II Year B.A. English.

When I first got this book as a birthday gift, I looked at its length and thought, “Wow. I’m never going to read this”. For almost 2 years, the book sat untouched in my cupboard. Then, one fine day, as I was dusting my cupboard, this caught my eye, and since I had been bored stiff for some time, I decided I could give it a read.

Let me tell you, that was the best decision I could have made.

Six hundred and ninety seven pages of pure genius, that’s what The Fountainhead is. Ayn Rand has done an excellent job of portraying the pressure society places on a young man who refuses to give up his visions and morals, facing, along the way, various people who want to destroy him, including a woman who claims to love him.

The Fountainhead has everything a reader can possibly like: power, greed, love, betrayal, lust, life and all its perfections and imperfections. It has a young architect who society refuses to accept (Howard Roark), a beautiful woman in love with what she can never have (Dominique Francon), another young architect at the top of his field (Peter Keating), a captain not in control of his sinking ship (Gail Wynand), and so many more beautifully woven characters.

I am not going to lie. This book is not a breeze to read. It is not one of those books that will impact you in a small way for a long time.  It is not a casual read that you can forget as you move on to another one. It is not one which makes you laugh at the funny moments and cry at the sad ones.

It is like a hurricane. It hits you at your weakest point, tears apart all your carefully-built impressions and perceptions of the world, and settles like a scar in your heart; each time you are reminded of it, you remember the pain it brought you. It is a book that you will fall in love with, and not forget for a long, long, time. It is like an emotional punch to the gut.

Reading this book is a lot like finishing a piece of homework. You trudge through it, but each time you look up, you realize that there is a long way to go. It requires some determination to start, a little more to follow through, and a lot more to finally reach the end. The satisfaction, though, and the sweet joy that courses through your chest as you realize that you have finally finished it, is worth all the trouble.

In the end, the world of readers boils down, I realized, to two kinds. Those who are in love with ‘The Fountainhead’, and those who would not touch it with a ten foot pole. I am happy to say that I am a part of the former.

Does this book have controversies? Yes. Does it make you want to smash your head into a wall at times? Maybe. Does it make you weep with relief, joy and sorrow? Definitely. All in all, I think that ‘The Fountainhead’ is fantastic and a must-read for die-hard readers of all genres.

Restaurants for Broke College Students: Madurai Pandian Mess

Akchayaa R, I B.A. English.

As college students, most of us stay in hostels. Due to this (un)fortunate circumstance, our tongues have forgotten the taste of our grandmothers’ cooking. Most of you might not prefer the Madurai Pandian Mess as it is famous for its non-vegetarian cuisine. But if you eat meat, then you my friend, must visit this place, for this is something you absolutely cannot miss.

Located on the busy streets of T. Nagar, this small, mess-styled eatery might not look very appealing from the outside but the aroma of the food speaks otherwise. As you walk in and have a seat (sometimes sharing a table with a random person) you will have the servers place a plantain leaf instead of a plate for a more authentic experience. Once they hand you the menus, you would be surprised for two reasons – one: you can leave with a full wallet, heart and stomach and two: you can find everything that flies (except aeroplanes), everything that swims (except submarines) and everything that walks (except humans) as delicacies! It is truly a meat-lovers paradise.

The non-vegetarian meal consists of rice, kootu, poriyal, chicken gravy, mutton gravy and fish gravy. This one meal is enough to satisfy your hunger but the stomach wants what it wants- and it wants more! The prawn fry, which is prepared as a semi-gravy, is a must try and the egg omelette spiced with pepper and onions is too good to miss. The only quirk about this place is that the service is not that of ‘gourmet’ restaurants. One meal here can take you back to your grandmother’s kitchen and that is a chance nobody wants to miss.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Roshni Kumaravel, III Year B.V.A. Fine Arts

When it was first announced that a play based on Harry Potter was in the works, speculations arose that it would be a prequel to the Harry Potter series. People were ecstatic. Of course, JK Rowling was quick to shut down the rumor and along with it the enthusiasm of billions of hopeful fans all across the world. She vehemently stated that The Cursed Child was #NotAPrequel (Yeah, it was a thing. The hashtag was an actual thing). When she announced that it was a sequel the fans responded with overwhelming excitement. Expectations were so high. Plans were made to earn money, save, travel to London and watch the play. You can imagine the joy when JK announced on Pottermore that the screenplay would be available for purchase. People called it the 8th Harry Potter story.

In my opinion, the book was a great let-down. Here’s why.

The Harry Potter series wasn’t just about Harry Potter, it was about his friends as well. Hermione convinced us that it was cool to be a nerdy know-it-all. Ron was the best friend a person could ask for. Ginny Weasley was a strong and fiercely independent woman. Neville was that goof we all came to love just as much as Harry. Whereas in ‘Harry Potter and The Cursed Child’, Harry was a dad who had no idea how to raise a child, Hermione was just another Ministry official, Ginny was a wife whose only job is to take care of her kids and validate her husband. This just wasn’t believable character development. You know there is something wrong with the book when Ron Weasley has pretty much been reduced to a laughing stock. In fact, I bet you could remove Ron from the story and rewrite it with little or no changes to the plot.

It wasn’t just the characters that were inconsistent with the original stories. The Time Turners we saw were completely different from the ones we were introduced to in ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’. The ones we were familiar with were used to simply reverse time and complete events that had already taken place in real time. However in ‘The Cursed Child’, the Time Turners were used to travel back in time, alter certain events and start an alternate chain of events. The plot itself didn’t seem very Harry Potter-esque, but rather like a badly written Doctor Who/Harry Potter fan fiction. The introduction of the deus ex-machina Time Turner was completely ridiculous and the plot lacked the detailed ending that’s a key feature of JK Rowling’s works.

The book did have a few redeeming qualities though. The scenes at the Potter household seemed reminiscent of the camaraderie at 12, Grimmauld Place in ‘The Order of the Phoenix’. The bromance between James and Sirius that we’ve mostly only heard about was presented to us through Albus and Scorpius, and was enjoyable.

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is not the worst book I’ve ever read. However, it was a colossal disappointment and I reject it as canon.


Nikita Pinto, III Year B.A. English

Stellaeidoscope Rating: 7.5/10

How does one make a movie about bad, irredeemable characters while reducing the darkness surrounding them? The answer: lace it with a little humour. That is what Suicide Squad is all about- fun, fun and more fun. As much as that sounds tiring, without any actual grimness, Suicide Squad manages to almost pull it off. Almost.

Set against a peppy-dark soundtrack with songs by Twenty One Pilots, Eminem and Imagine Dragons, the movie stirs up plenty of emotions but fails to provide a proper execution of the plot. In fact, that is Suicide Squad’s biggest problem – the storytelling. Suicide Squad is like a poorly aimed arrow (or in this case, a boomerang) that soars high, and then falls, missing its target, a result of the plot holes and poor CGI effects. But, there is some sunshine to all this madness, in the form of show stopper Harley Quinn, played by Margot Robbie.

Robbie as Harley Quinn is refreshing in a plot that is quite loose. Harley brings the crazy while proving that she is indeed the hero of this film, literally. If it wasn’t for her, there is no telling how Suicide Squad would have fared at the Box Office. Her character is one that has been previously unexplored on the big screen. Normally, the Joker is the one that takes the centre stage in the comics, animated films, TV shows and in live-action films. In Suicide Squad however, the Joker is pushed to the fringes while Harley dominates, winning the hearts of the audience.

Unfortunately, Harley’s portrayal is not all praise. It is Mad Love indeed between her and the Joker but their relationship is far from the true depiction in the comics that shows the abusive, sadistic and sexist treatment endured by her for the sake of love. Sure, there are bits and pieces in the film that give you a glimpse into the dark side of their relationship, but the disturbing quality of their love is not effectively portrayed. Effective portrayal is where the film lacks overall. With the exception of Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Amanda Waller, the potential of the characters are not fully and truly explored, with the most disappointing one being that of Slipknot, who lasts for a mere two minutes in the film.

Jared Leto was tasked with a near-impossible task, to surpass Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker. Does he succeed? It is hard to say with the number of deleted scenes of the Joker in Suicide Squad. As the animated film Assault on Arkham proved, the Joker, like Batman, is essential to any Suicide Squad story. He can either act as the wrench in squad’s plans or help them out in their mission. Leto’s Joker is the right amount of menacing and scary in his mobster persona.

On the plus side, the flashback and “future” dream sequences have become a trademark of Zack Snyder (as seen in Batman V Superman) and these flashbacks or flash-forwards, tricky as they are, help the plot move forward in Suicide Squad. However, a common problem that many fans have noticed is that DC attempts to weave together various scenes from different comics and storylines, instead of sticking to just one, resulting in a chaotic portrayal. Sure, they act as fun Easter Eggs but to the common viewer, they ultimately result in confusion and therefore create feelings of distaste.

The entire Enchantress subplot lacks conviction and only enflames ridicule. The scene where Enchantress does her whole belly-dance routine while casting spells is weird enough. The fact that she does all of that while Task Force X fights her minions and receives crazy visions of what could be if they join the dark side does not create a scene of seriousness but that of amusement. The poor delivery of Enchantress only drags the film down.

So what’s worth watching in this film if it only creates disappointment? Plenty, actually. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller is one to watch. The award-winning actress captures the essence of the ruthless Waller who plays God and makes you even wonder who the real villain is. Marvel can in fact learn a few things from DC when it comes to the portrayal of female characters. Strong females in the Marvel films are clearly lacking. DC however, is paving the way for bold, fierce and even crazy women, that each stand out on their own instead of being supporting characters, like Katana, Amanda Waller, Enchantress, Harley Quinn and soon, Wonder Woman.

With such a large assemble of characters, it is indeed difficult to allot equal screen time to every character, but the movie manages to strike a balance by showing the human side of the villains. Suicide Squad, for all its shortcomings, proves that even villains can become heroes, though they are, as the posters read, the “worst heroes ever.”

Why you should watch it:  An ethereal musical score with compositions by Twenty One Pilots, X Ambassadors, Imagine Dragons, Eminem and others that set the mood, Harley Quinn, a very scary Batman and stunning visuals that will blow your mind, plus it’s been six years since we last saw the Joker on the big screen, what else do you need?

Who Came First: Man or Army?

Does the AFSPA aid the people or fail to protect them?

Srishti Sankaranarayanan, III Year B.A. History.

Recent events in India’s restive Northeast have turned the spotlight yet again on the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), a controversial piece of legislation that confers vast powers on the armed forces deployed in “disturbed areas” of the country.

On March 27, 2016, the Indian government declared 12 districts in Arunachal Pradesh bordering Assam as “disturbed areas” and imposed the AFSPA on them, only to revoke it in early May. Then in late May, the government of Tripura revoked AFSPA, 18 years after it was first imposed in this state. A few days later, on June 4, militants ambushed a convoy of the Indian Army’s 6 Dogra Regiment in Manipur. The attack, which left 18 soldiers dead and eleven injured, is among the deadliest militant strikes on the Army in over three decades in this troubled state.

Heated debate on AFSPA has been raging since. What has it achieved in the “disturbed areas” where it is in effect? Should it remain in force, be revoked, or at least revised?

AFSPA’s imposition in Arunachal Pradesh was bitterly criticized as the federal government had not consulted the state government before declaring it as a “disturbed area”. It drew attention to the lack of clarity as to what constitutes a “disturbed area” and the rather arbitrary manner in which AFSPA is being imposed in the country. AFSPA’s subsequent revocation here and in Tripura raised hopes of its withdrawal from other deployed places. Those hopes were quickly dashed following the ambush in Manipur. As an official in India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Diplomat, “The situation in the Northeast remains turbulent and merits AFSPA being kept in place there.”

Drawing from a draconian ordinance the British colonial rulers used during the Quit India Movement of 1942, the Indian Parliament enacted AFSPA in September 1958 during the nascent Naga insurgency. AFSPA grants the army, central police forces, and state police personnel in “disturbed areas” “certain special powers,” including the right to shoot to kill, to raid houses, and destroy any property that is “likely” to be used by insurgents, and “to arrest without warrant”, even on “reasonable suspicion”, a person who has committed or even “about to commit a cognizable offence.”

Besides conferring extensive powers on the armed forces, AFSPA provides them immunity from prosecution. “No prosecution, suit or other legal proceeding shall be instituted except with the previous sanction of the Central government against any person” acting under this legislation, it says.

Imposed first in the Naga Hills in 1958, AFSPA, an emergency law, was to be in force for a year. Almost six decades thereon, it remains in effect not just in these hills but in areas across all seven northeastern states. Since July 1990, it has been in force in the Kashmir Valley too.

If the aim of AFSPA was to restore normalcy in certain troubled areas, it has failed, say its critics. Despite the extraordinary powers vested in their hands by AFSPA, the armed forces have not been able to quell India’s insurgencies, a human rights activist based in Imphal in Manipur told The Diplomat. The area over which its writ runs has expanded significantly and armed struggles and insurgent groups have proliferated in the Northeast.

Drawing attention to AFSPA’s successful role in Nagaland, for instance, Kadyan, who saw the Naga insurgency through its various stages, recalled that without the “protective umbrella of AFSPA” the ceasefire which came into effect on August 1, 1997 would not have been possible. It was only after the armed forces had “captured six rebel ‘Ministers’ that they were brought to their knees.” This paved the way for the truce, which has survived to date.

AFSPA’s critics view the legislation differently and hold it responsible for the spiraling violence in areas it is in force. The “sweeping powers” it vests in the hands of the armed forces and especially the protection it gives them from prosecution “encourages soldiers to kill, raid and rape,” the Manipuri activist argued, drawing attention to “grave human rights violations” that AFSPA has “enabled.”

In an insurgency situation it is difficult for soldiers to differentiate between sympathizer and insurgent. Hence, “aberrations do occur,” Kadyan said. But 98 per cent of the allegations are false, he maintained, adding that if soldiers are to face the civilian courts for every allegation, they will be preoccupied with running to the courts rather than fighting insurgents.

While admitting that some instances of civilian deaths at the hands of the security forces are the result of “genuine mistakes” by soldiers “in the heat of an operation,” the Manipuri activist pointed out that this does not apply to rapes. “How can rapes fall under the category of acts done in the line of duty, requiring legal protection of the state?” she asked.

Over the years, demands for justice in extra-judicial killings and rapes – such as the torture, rape, and murder in 2004 of 34-year-old Thangjam Manorama by soldiers of the Assam Rifles – have triggered dramatic protests and snowballed into mass campaigns. Irom Sharmila, for instance, has been on a hunger strike since 2000 to press for AFSPA’s repeal. On July 14, 2004 a dozen naked women protested in front of the Assam Rifles headquarters at Kangla Fort, Imphal, daring the soldiers to come out and rape them.

The wave of protests in 2004 forced the then United Progressive Alliance government to set up the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee in 2005 to review AFSPA and make recommendations. Describing AFSPA as “a symbol of oppression, an object of hate and an instrument of discrimination and high-handedness”, the Reddy Committee suggested it be repealed. However, no steps were taken to repeal or reform AFSPA.

The military is opposed to AFSPA’s withdrawal. Explaining its position, Kadyan pointed out that the Army gets called in to support the civil administration “only when the situation is not normal” and “in such abnormal circumstances, abnormal provisions have to be made.” “Soldiers need legal cover [that AFSPA provides] to operate in these circumstances,” he argued.

While the army has been vocal in its opposition to AFSPA’s lifting in the Northeast and Kashmir, sections of the political establishment too are keen to keep it in place and blame the armed forces for opposing AFSPA’s repeal. With AFSPA in force, state governments can avoid taking responsibility for their own administrative failures. Besides, “disturbed areas” are eligible for more funds from the central government.

The possibility of AFSPA being even reformed seems bleak at the moment. The present government is stridently opposed to any dilution in the law. As Sanjoy Hazarika, a member of the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee, wrote: “how many more deaths, how many more naked protests, how many more hunger strikes, how many more committees, how many more editorials and articles and broadcasts before AFSPA goes?”

[Photograph Source: Indian Express]

Rio Olympics 2016: A Quick Recap

Special Correspondent Anusha Sankaranarayanan , III Year B.A. English

There were two kinds of people who followed the Rio Olympics this year – the ones who woke up early in the mornings to catch the games of their favourite athletes and the ones who were content with simply looking at the news updates and score tally later on in the day. Regardless of the category one belongs to, what would have been impossible to ignore was the woeful fortunes of the largest-ever Indian contingent to the Olympics.

India’s 67th position on the medals table stands in stark contrast to countries like China and the United States, which topped the charts with medals across 25 disciplines. While most lamented this state of affairs, a closer look at the athletes’ individual performances reveals a latent sliver of hope for the future of sports in India.

P.V.Sindhu and Sakshi Malik proved to be India’s saving grace at the Rio Olympics when they scored silver and bronze medals respectively just a few days before the closing ceremony. Not only did Sindhu defeat at least three badminton players ranked higher than her to qualify for the finals, her competence at the sport also managed to rattle World No.1 Carolina Marin.

However, the star of the season was a woman from Tripura, who was hardly five feet tall and proved to the entire world that with dedication anything is possible, even performing the dangerous two-and-a-half somersault Produnova vault. When she missed the Bronze medal the entire nation wept with her, but it was not in vain since Dipa Karmakar embodied hope. Despite the lack of a medal, the very fact that she landed a spot in the finals spelt hope for a country which had not had an Olympian gymnast since 1964.

It was only fitting then that the three young female athletes, along with Jitu Rai, were awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award on 29th of August. While remembering the contributions of our medalists, however, it would be erroneous to forget those of the other athletes who spent four years of their lives channeling their energies into the Olympics.

Indeed, there were disappointments at Rio when the archers, boxers and wrestlers failed to bring in medals. While some missed it by a hair’s breadth, others exhibited disappointing performances in the heat of the moment. Among the former were Abhinav Bindra and the tennis duo Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna who lost the Bronze medal by mere inches.

Track athlete Lalita Babar was also the first Indian woman track athlete since 1984 and finished 10th in the 300m steeplechase finals. Others who showed great potential were badminton player Kidambi Srikanth, who lost to the Chinese legend Lin Dan in the quarter-finals, and rower Dattu Bhokanal, who clinched the first place in the Final C round in the men’s single sculls event.

What remains to be seen now is how India taps into the potential of these athletes to transform itself as a sporting nation. Previously, it was the lack of funding for sports which was considered to be the issue. However, despite the provision of resources for Rio, the potential failed to transform itself into results due to lack of planning. It is then perhaps for the better that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced a task force to recommend an overall strategy for sports facilities, training, selection procedure and other related matters for the Olympics in 2020, 2024 and 2028.

Now is the time for our athletes not to be content with merely being Olympians, but to channel their willpower into becoming champions. And I hope that as I keep a lookout for them, they turn around and surprise me during the next Olympics!

[Photograph Source: Times of India]

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